Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson was one of seven Southeastern Conference players picked in the first round of the NBA draft and the only UK player. He was picked 22nd by the Los Angeles Lakers but ended up with Indiana after two trades that suited him because it put him closer to family in Michigan.
Jackson said Indiana fans should know he is a hard worker.
“I bring it all, I’m a defensive anchor, I’m going to be their energy guy that Indiana needs and like I keep saying, I can’t wait to get there and get to work and show everybody, prove everybody wrong,” Jackson said.
Obviously, Jackson feels he should have gone higher than 22nd.
Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy believes Jackson can develop into an elite defender.
“He gets off his feet so quickly and reads shooters so well. It seemed unlikely that minutes would be there early in his career in LA, as the Lakers focus on winning another title. Which is why it makes sense they would trade the pick away to the Pacers,” DeCourcy wrote.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo also called Jackson an “elite run-jump athlete” who could provide needed inside defense for the Pacers.
Jackson will be playing in the NBA Summer League and is eager to show what he has been working on since his UK career ended.
“I just want to help Indiana win. I know like last year they didn’t have the best season but I can’t wait to get there and just help them win. That’s my whole mentality, it’s just going in and working and helping them win,” he said.
“I feel like Kentucky helped me. It taught me a lot of things. One of them was like how to deal with adversity. The other one was just on the court just playing tough, playing with that fire, playing like every game can be your last or the other team’s championship.”